COMACO is a non-profit Zambian company that partners with traditional leaders, communities, and farmer cooperatives to provide support, skills and a market for farmers’ products, as an alternative livelihood to poaching. We’re teaming up with COMACO to bring information on conservation farming and sustainability via our Prime radios and Lifeplayers.
Over the past 14 years, COMACO’s work has expanded across much of the Luangwa Valley, an area under severe threat from illegal wildlife poaching and deforestation, but which supports some of the largest elephant and carnivore populations in Southern Africa. Currently, there are almost 140,000 COMACO-registered farmers who once poached to supplement their household income. They have surrendered over 2,400 firearms and 80,000 snares, and there have been numerous arrests of wildlife criminals reported by COMACO farmers.
COMACO uses Breeze FM in Chipata to broadcast three one-hour COMACO Farm Talk programmes each week to a listening audience of over 800,000. These programmes broaden understanding of conservation, livelihood skills, and ensure a shared knowledge base for farmers. Farm Talk also operates a hot-line number for listeners to report illegal wildlife activity. As the company provides a market for the farmers’ products, Farm Talk is also used to inform them when and where to take their produce for COMACO to buy, process and package for sale.
Access to information is key to raising farmer incomes, and Farm Talk is central to COMACO’s solution of teaching small-scale farmers how to farm sustainably and adopt conservation methods. If farmers are able to generate enough income from farming, they stop poaching and other environmentally destructive practices.
COMACO-registered farmers are experiencing the positive impact of farming sustainably. Poaching has been abandoned as a livelihood, and the numbers of key wildlife species, like elephants, are increasing. Providing more Primes and Lifeplayers will extend Farm Talk’s reach in areas with poor FM reception, enabling COMACO to scale their skills training and education programs, and ensure not only the ecological health of the Luangwa Valley, but provide sustainable, secure incomes for the people living there.